UN agency seeks to step up effectiveness of food delivery in crisis zones

WFP distributes food in an IDP camp in North Darfur, Sudan

18 May 2010 – In a bid to ensure that the hungriest and most vulnerable people in crises are fed, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is tapping into the expertise of those at the forefront of business, humanitarian aid and technology.

“Every day we face severe dangers and obstacles as we seek to ensure food reaches the hungry safely and effectively,” said Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP, which feeds 100 million people a year.

Global logistics experts from the private sector, including retail giant Walmart and transport company TNT, along with humanitarian specialists, such as former UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland and military officials focusing on supply chains, are taking part in today’s gathering in Rome.

Ms. Sheeran said she aims to make WFP, the frontline agency in the fight against hunger, “a centre of best practices on risk management and controls.”

She added, “we must ensure that every risk mitigation method possible is deployed in reaching non-combatants trapped in wars and victims of natural disasters.”

Already, the agency has a sophisticated food delivery system in place, which includes detailed assessments to determine the number of hungry people and their locations; strict contracting guidelines to ensure that the most trustworthy and reliable transport companies are identified; and methods to track food from donation to distribution.

“WFP doesn’t choose where it wants to work, it is driven by the principle of trying to reach the hungry wherever they are found,” Ms. Sheeran said. “This means we cannot avoid taking risks, but we can try to manage them.

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